Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On the Black Heritage Festival..

The Lagos Badagry Black Heritage Festival (of which the Lagos Carnival was a part) seems to be a good idea currently hidden within a strange amalgam. Its hard to know who the festival is for. Calling it a 'black heritage' festival is a distinctively western turn of phrase, which makes it sound as if the event is designed for second generation diasporic Africans, used to thinking of themselves as black as much as African, as well as of course for African-Americans. Perhaps the idea here is to tap into the black American tourist market that heads more readily for Ghana.

On the other hand, the programme has a heavy emphasis on the francophone black world, commemorating Aime Cesaire, Leopold Senghor and Alioune Diop (but strangely enough, not Cheikh Anta Diop). Here, it seems that the aim is to encourage French-speaking Africans to visit Nigeria.

There are two basic strategies for developing the tourism sector of a country: either you aim to develop internal tourism, or you develop your tourist infrastructure and market exclusively to foreigners. Some countries (such as "Incredible India") began with a thriving internal tourism sector and so only had to begin upgrading its tourist infrastructure. Others, such as the Gambia, have ruthlessly followed the second strategy. Its hard to imagine many Gambians going on holiday to Gambian tourist resorts.

At present, its not clear what Nigeria (or Lagos)'s tourist development strategy is. The Lagos Badagry Black Heritage Festival reflects this confusion.


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